Wednesday, October 15, 2008

GAP Trail - C&O Canal - 333 Mile Bike Trip - Pittsburgh to Arlington

M and I went on a five day bike ride, from Pittsburgh, Pa. back to Arlington, Va.

The tour company picked us and our bikes up at the Marriott in Arlington, and hauled us to Pittsburgh. The trip involved riding the Great Allegheny Passage Trail, which was an old railroad rail bed turned bike trail, and the C&O Canal, which is a National Park trail.


Luckily, one of the other folks on the tour, was a native of Pittsburgh. The night before the beginning of the ride, he showed us around the city.

Pittsburgh is known as the City of Bridges. There are 29 of them spanning three rivers. We walked around the city and across one of those bridges.

Paddlewheel from old steamboat.
It is constructed out of steel, and I suspect it is representative of products from Pittsburgh's steel manufacturing days.

The Duquesne Incline

This "incline" travels up tracks to the top of the hill. It's a restored antique.

This is a view of the city from the top of the Duquesne Incline.

Fountains lit at night.

We had dinner at the wacky, yet quite yummy, Bucco de Beppo restaurant.

Neighborhood view of Pittsburgh on the morning we began the ride.

Start of the Bike Trip
Outside of Pittsburgh
Great Allegheny Passage
Rail to Trail

This manufacturing plant is a remnant of the steel industry in the area. We were on the wrong trail at this point, but somehow ended up on the correct one. What a way to start.....

West Newton, Pa.
Abandoned Store
Abandoned buildings have almost a magical quality to me. I took photos of many along the way.

I asked this lady from Washington State about her bike. It is a foldable Bike Friday. Both the bike and the trailer fold up and fit inside this suitcase. Amazing!

Group shot of the group for the GAP Trail. More folks will join us in a few days.

Down the trail a bit, we passed this sculpture of a pioneer. It is made of welded railroad spikes.

Abandoned railroad bridge near Connellsville, Pa.

Yough River Park, Connellsville, Pa.

Abandoned House, Connellsville, Pa.

Coal seam running through rock

Bridge leading into Ohiopyle, Pa.

On the way out of town the next day, we returned to this bridge to see the falls one last time. The wooden bridge was wet and as my foot caught on my pannier, I fell down hard. Both legs got nasty bruises, but oddly enough, it never hurt.

Youghegheny River Rapids, Ohiopyle, Pa.

Buckwheat Festival, Ohiopyle, Pa.

Deer Leg Thermometer for Sale at the Buckwheat Festival

Fly Fishermen at Confluence, Pa.

Every ten to twenty miles, we were met by our tour guide, Tom from "Get Out and Go Tours." At every stop he had set out juices, energy bars, cookies, fruit, candy, water, and gatorade. At lunch, he provided all the makings for a picnic lunch. By far, this was the most attentive tour company with whom we have ever traveled.

Train sculpture made from sheet metal and bicycle parts.

Sculpture on top of bike shop.

Garrett Wind Farm can be seen on the horizon.

Bollman Bridge - built in 1871

I have been seeing these little scripture stickers inside the portapotties along the C&O Canal for years. There are a great variety of Bible verses stuck in the toilet stalls for miles. I guess someone feels that portapotty stickers are their ministry. I, however, feel sort of blasphemous reading them while in there.

Behind this trike cyclist is a tiny dog in a cape.

One part of the trip that you will not see photos of, is the hideous mess that had been my face. Because the days were wonderfully temperate, usually mid-70's, the midges were out in full force. Whenever we stopped, the mideges feasted on my head. Unfortunately, I am sensitive to their bites, and my eyes became a swollen mess. During every daylight hour, I wore sunglasses. Now this created it's own problem, as I also got a raccoon tan. Ugh.

The Hotel Gunter, Frostburg, Pa.
This restored hotel is an interesting place. It had fallen into great disrepair, but was restored in the 1980's.

The basement level of the hotel once served as a jail. When guards were transporting prisoners on the train, they would spend the night in the hotel. The prisoners were downstairs in cells, as the guards were spending time upstairs with ladies of the evening. There was also a cock fighting ring downstairs, though it is no longer visible to the public.

Lobby staircase at The Gunter

One of the long hills down from the Gunter. There were three separate steep hills from the trail to the hotel. I thought I was going to croak riding up them.

Cumberland, Md.
Terminus of the C&O Canal that begins in Georgetown, Washington, DC
Starting point of the GAP Trail to Pittsburgh

Abandoned Houses at the beginning of the Western Maryland Rail Trail. The WMRT runs parallel to the C&O Canal and is a treat to ride on since it is paved.

PawPaw Tunnel, built between 1831 and 1850
3188 feet long
You need a flashlight to light your way through this one.

Lock House and Tow Path
Because the Potomac River is not navigable past Washington, DC, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was constructed to haul freight to the Ohio River. Mules walked along the towpath next to the canal, and they pulled the boats.

C&O Canal and Tow Path

Fort Frederick

Cushwa Basin

Beginning of Detour around Canal. This detour takes you on country roads without shoulders. Sometimes it gets a bit hairy with big pickups speeding up and down the hills right next to you.

Back on the Towpath

Great Falls, Md.
I can almost smell home now.

Here's another detour. Because of washed out parts of the canal at Great Falls, we had to carry our bikes up several sets of stairs and ride around a park and parking lot to get back to the canal.

The Key Bridge
Georgetown is behind us.

Arlington, Va., where we began the trip, is in front of us.

Marriott Parking lot. End of trip.

These are the filthiest of the bunch. We won't say who they belong to.

The final tally of miles at the entrance to our garage was 333 miles and it took five days of riding to get there.

I'm glad that we trained for the ride. We did just fine with the miles every day. And it was a relief having Tom taking care of all the logistics. I'd recommend the trip in a heartbeat.

GAP Trail
C&O Canal  


Brit' Gal Sarah said...

I read the titale to this in my blogroll and was instantly in awe!! You are my exercise god!

Anyway whay a fab tour and some great piccies - wonder woman

perilloparodies said...

Oh, i could write comment for everything you shared. how fun, memorable, and educational... love it. you got such great pictures. love that fold/up bike, the metal sculptures, and FALL colors... there is more, but I am just excited that you were in my home state!! silly, i know, but it is neat. :-) thanks so much for sharing... cannot wait to reread this blog post. it was loaded with so much fun...

diana said...

Wow, that is completely crazy, but so inspiring. Whenever I hear about your bike tales I want to jump on my bike and ride off into the sunset, but my bike's seat is so spectacularly uncomfortable I can only do short trips. Only yesterday I saw a bike Friday. Where I live bikes are popular as it is really flat. No crazy hills like the ones encountered on your adventures.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting your GAP/C&O adventure on your blog--I enjoyed reading it! It was good seeing your Get Out and Go group at West Newton Station (where you saw the Bike Friday).

Jackie said...

Holy Cow - how long did it take you to post all of those pics? Fantastic trip, with wonderful pictures! I love the idea of a supported ride like that too. You must be very proud of yourself, I know I would be. Love the picture of your dirty legs, and I'm curious did you come home with a deer leg thermometer?

Blink said...

Wonderful recap of your trip. I'm truly inspired! Thanks for sharing!

Scott Pigeon said...

The pictures and narration were great. I recognized a few of the places. I hope to make a trip like this too!